We open to a sky blanketed in lint red, a few stray clouds dotted across the dying light of the downing sun. A large oval glass building stands in the backdrop, proud and unique in its architecture, with a flat surface running diagonally up to the rounded sphere. A few people meander past, busying themselves for the inevitable New Years celebrations to come. The festive season is always special, but in Cleveland, Ohio, it can be something else.
From Winterfest at Public Square and WinterShow at the Botanical Gardens to the lighting display at Nela Park, the city comes alive this time of year and at a very cool four degrees centigrade, it was definitely scarf season in The Forest City.
At the foreground of the shot, the figure of Claude Baptiste Ranier stands with a navy blue jumper over his light blue shirt, a Bauber jacket over the jumper and his own silver grey scarf wrapped around his neck. Ranier holds his hands in his pockets, the dark blue jeans loose fitted down to his light brown polished shoes. Claude stands ahead of the camera, a gentle smile across his face.
CBR: Good evening UTA and welcome to Cleveland, the Metropolis of the Western Reserve!
Claude digs his hands into his jacket pockets deeper, straightening his shoulders.
CBR: And this, my friends, is where the UTA visits in under a week for the first show of twenty sixteen and Wrestleshow fifty one! We've got a big night planned including the Prodigy Title on the line in the Quicken Loans arena...a match I will most likely be watching very closely due to my dear friend Jesse’s involvement. But, of course, before I can pull on my Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt, grab some Cleveland Chilli and Pierogi and watch the match I've got to go through a seasoned UTA hall of famer.
Ranier withdraws a hand from his pocket, turning to his side and pointing towards the large glass structure.
CBR: Behind me here is another hall of fame. This is the place where true giants reside and where this year Deep Purple and The NWA join three hundred and twelve acts currently inducted into this pantheon of icons. And what an honour that must be…
Claude starts to walk slowly, the heels of his shoes crunching against some loose gravel.
CBR: Last year in our very own Hall of Fame Jason Whiteside and Tito joined the greats that have come before the current crop of UTA Stars changing the world of professional wrestling, but none have had that honour longer than my opponent on Monday.
Ranier looks up at the glass structure, his eyes casting over the architecture.
CBR: Fitting then, that in this world of Hall of Fames I get to test my metal against a true great of the UTA, a man who has held every honour in this business and a former World, Intercontinental and Prodigy Champion in the greatest federation on the planet, The Southern Rebel...Ron Hall.
Claude stops and turns back to the camera. The smile is gone, replaced with a look of sincerity.
CBR: Of course this isn't the first time I've been to this great city. And it won't be the last. December twenty fourteen, Wrestleshow twenty eight, brimming with arrogance I belittled another legend of the sport...Chris Hopper. But more importantly, I am ashamed to say I took part in the makeshift funeral for another UTA hall of famer, The Spectre.
Ranier clasps his hands together in the cold, rubbing the palms against one another to generate heat as his eyes are transfixed on the lens.
CBR: That was not one of my proudest moments. And Ron, this is not the first time you and I have stepped in the squared circle either. Victory Thirty Two, Universal Studios, first round of Ring King; I took the cheap way out. I progressed Ron, I cheated. That is not how I was taught to embrace this sport and not how I intend to carry myself in future. I can only apologise to you, and to everyone else who's name I have dragged through the mud in my own shameless pursuit of glory. Monday though Ron, Monday will be different.
Claude takes a couple of steps towards the camera.
CBR: This Monday, I want to face the Ron Hall who took Perfection to the limit in February. I want to go one on one with the Ron Hall who put Spectre through a table and beat Brian Ironside in the same night in two thousand three. I want the World Champion Ron Hall, the Hall of Famer Ron Hall, the UTA legend Ron Hall.
Ranier unclamps his hands and raises one for effect, the other sinking back into its pocket as he breathes in and out slowly.
CBR: Ron, I want you at your absolute best. The Legacy Title may not be on the line but mark my words, if you pin my shoulders to the mat I will gladly give you a shot. This is a moment for us both to step out of the shadows - you out of Spawn and the past, me out of Dynasty and the sour mistakes I've made to hold onto my spot.
Claude blinks, the emotion clear in his eyes and on his strained look. The past few weeks welling up into a statement of passion and intent.
CBR: Last time you almost had me. You nearly beat me, before I stole a victory. This week, we both have something to prove, both have demons to conquer. Forget about the insignificant voices all around making predictions and underestimating you. Forget about the eyes in the back. Remember just who in the hell you are and bring it on Monday, bring it and give the fine people of the Rock and Roll City a moment to remember.
Ranier calms himself, closing his eyes and pausing a moment before slowly opening them and stepping even closer to the camera.
CBR: And if either of you, Jesse and Mikey, decide to tempt fate and show up in our match? Well...you'll have not one, but two UTA legends to contend with.